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Falls from height are the single biggest cause of workplace fatality in the UK, The Work at Height Regulations 2005 now govern all work at height.
There are a number of reasons for falls from height within workplaces. Ladders are the highest cause of falls from height. Scaffolding, platforms, vehicles, roof edges, stairs, fragile roofs and gangways/catwalks are also common causes. Falls from height make up a quarter of all fatal and major injuries and are the second highest cause of fatal injuries.
Employers have a duty to protect employees and other persons from a fall from height. Browse our other pages in this section to find out more.
Falls from heights usually occur during maintenance or cleaning and the common factors that cause accidents are:
Accidents can be avoided by ensuring that proper planning and procedures are in place at the start and that they are adhered to.
To prevent falls from heights risk assessments must be undertaken and consideration must be given to the following:
1. Reducing the amount of cleaning and maintenance at high level by altering the layout and design of the building e.g. ensuring effective dust and fume extraction, reducing the number of ledges where dust can accumulate, and ensuring adequate platforms or permanent fixtures are provided for working from
2. Use jet cleaners for high structure cleaning
3. If work is absolutely necessary at height then ensure that there is a safe system of work in place such as mobile scaffolds being constructed and used properly
4. Ensure that staff do not use fork lift trucks or a pallet mounted on forks etc for providing a quick lift up to the task in hand
5. Ensure that all equipment required for sampling or checking is located at ground level. If this is not possible then permanent access steps or platforms should be provided and adequate handrails
6. Providing good cleaning regimes
7. Appropriate slip resistant footwear to the correct British Standard
8. Ensuring stair routes do not become contaminated with debris or other obstructions
Employers can also access the WAIT toolkit which has been developed by the Health and Safety Executive to help explain key issues when working at height and the factors to consider when selecting the most appropriate and safest type of access equipment.
If you require help with something in this section, please contact us.